The US is an international football hotbed, but for the first time, one of the big-five conferences has banned its members from playing in the Olympics.
The NCAA has decided to allow American military universities and the American National University to compete in the Rio Olympics despite their refusal to play in the men’s game, which the American government has supported.
The decision, which was announced on Thursday, comes after the US Department of Education (Decembers) announced that US colleges and universities will have to begin to allow the women’s teams to compete at the Rio Games in 2020.
While the US has been one of three nations that has refused to allow US universities to participate in the Olympic Games, it was not until two years ago that it became clear that the US would not allow American universities to compete.
“We have never been more aware of the importance of women’s sports in the United States, but we have been unable to overcome this gap,” the NCAA said in a statement.
“Our universities have been fighting for years to ensure that all athletes and their families are treated fairly, without discrimination, and that these rights are protected by the NCAA’s rule.
We will now be able to continue to support these institutions in the future.”
The American National’s decision was a long time coming, with the NCAA saying that it had made the decision in December last year.
Despite the fact that US universities had been refusing to play American football for years, the NCAA decided to take action on Thursday after receiving a complaint from a member of the US Air Force, who had complained that he was not allowed to play because of his sex.
Although the US military did not have a formal policy to exclude women from playing sports, it has also been a hotbed for anti-feminist protests in recent years.
In June this year, an American serviceman took a selfie of himself in military uniform, which sparked a social media backlash.
It also emerged last month that the Pentagon was considering banning women from the US Olympic team because of concerns about safety.
The NCAA, in a joint statement, said that the decision would allow “for the continued inclusion of women and their supporters in all facets of collegiate athletics”.
“In order to allow women to participate and compete at any level, we must address the concerns of athletes and families,” the statement said.
“The NCAA will continue to work closely with the US Military to ensure athletes and fans of all genders are able to participate at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we look forward to supporting all athletic programs in the near future.”